I love Vietnamese food, of the all the different Asian cuisines I think it’s among the most interesting and fresh with their flavours. Although I’ve eaten a lot over the years I didn’t know much about cooking it though. I’d googled and researched the best Vietnamese cookery classes in London and this was frequently recommended. Uyen Luu is a food stylist and cook who has worked with chefs including Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc. Conveniently her test kitchen from where she runs her classes, as well as supper clubs, is not too far away from me just across East London’s Victoria Park in Hackney, as such I decided to bike over, but forgot to check the weather reports, so consequently ended up turning up rather drenched after an unexpected downpour. Uyen couldn’t have been lovelier though, giving me a towel to dry myself off and advising I bring my bike inside as there had been some thefts in the area recently.
The course started at 1pm on a Saturday afternoon, there was 10 of us in the class and we started off by all going round the table and introducing ourselves. The class was a mixture of hands on cooking and live demonstrations, and we started by learning to make Vietnamese summer rolls. All the ingredients were laid out in front of us and we dipped the pre bought rice paper wrappers in water to soften them, before assembled the ingredients into a sort of smiley face and then wrapping tightly to make a cigar shaped roll. We then moved over to the kitchen area when Uyen showed us how to make her delicious chicken pho. The main tips being to chargrill the onions and ginger before adding and using the best quality chicken you can afford. She was helped in the kitchen by her lovely Mum who taught her how to cook when she was a child. We also made bánh xèo, stuffed rice pancakes, probably my favourite Vietnamese dish and one that I was surprised to find contained no egg and was also quite simple to make. We also cooked a whole marinated fish and a delicious green papaya salad. It was really good mixture of watching and also practical taking part and you could get as involved or not as much as you wanted.
At the end we finished up by having a big feast all together at the communal table of all the dishes we had prepared together that day. We then packaged up what we still had left (we made alot!) to take home. Finally there was a chance to buy Uyen’s latest cookbook and get her to sign it for us. All in all it was a lovely afternoon and I really enjoyed it. Genuinely one of the nicest afternoon I had in ages. I learnt so much and it has has really inspired me to go on more cookery courses in the future.